Britain is ‘hooked’ on cheap foreign labour because the apprentice system is ‘failing’, experts warn amid calls for shake-up to link training to immigration policy
- New report says apprenticeship funding should be linked to UK’s visa policies
- It says the broken training system has forced firms to ‘rely on immigration’
A failure to fix the UK’s broken apprenticeship system has left British companies forced to ‘rely on immigration,’ a new Policy Exchange report has said.
Apprenticeship funding should instead be linked to the UK’s visa policy, to ensure British firms are able to train up local talent instead of hiring lower paid foreign workers, it says.
The shake-up would see money used to fill jobs listed on the UK’s ‘shortage occupation list,’ that lets companies hire overseas staff for below the going rate.
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi backed the calls as the think-tank’s David Goodhart said the failure to reform apprenticeship had left the UK ‘hooked on cheap foreign labour’.
The report also reveals that £4.3 billion raised through Britain’s apprenticeship levy has gone unspent, as it claims a lack of flexibility has hindered uptake of the schemes.
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) backed the call as he argued employers should be able to ‘train up home grown talent’ instead of ‘being forced to rely on immigration’
It in turn calls for cash from the UK’s ‘apprenticeship levy’ to be spent on a wider range of courses, including coding bootcamps and HGV driving courses.
Introduced in the financial year 2017/18, the UK’s ‘apprenticeship levy’ is a tax on companies that is used to fund on-the-job training schemes.
The levy sees all firms that pay out wages of more than £3 million each year taxed 0.5%, with the money used to finance a variety of training schemes.
The paper argues funding from the ‘apprenticeship levy’ should be linked to Britain’s visa policy, by using it to fill jobs listed on the UK’s ‘shortage occupation list.’
Britain’s ‘shortage occupation list’ lets companies hire workers from overseas at rates 20% below those normally required to obtain a ‘skilled worker’ visa.
Jobs listed on the ‘shortage occupation list’ include welders, engineers, lab technicians, and care workers.
Nadhim Zahawi MP said ’employers should be able to use the levy to train up home-grown talent… instead of being forced to rely on immigration to fill these vacancies.’
(Stock image) The report calls for an overhaul of the UK’s apprenticeship system to boost uptake by making the schemes more flexible to include short courses
The think-tank’s David Goodhart said: “Failure to reform the apprenticeship system and train young people has left Britain hooked on cheap foreign labour.
‘Policy Exchange’s proposal to link the apprenticeship levy to immigration policy would allow businesses to train up our own workforce to fill jobs,’ he said.
The Policy Exchange report also reveals that since 2018, a sum of £4.3 billion, that was raised through the UK’s levy, has not been spent on apprenticeships.
It claims the failure is due to a lack of support for shorter courses, as it says small business should be paid £3,000 to train up apprentices.
The report warns that uptake of apprenticeships by 19-24 year olds has dropped by 31 per cent since 2015/16, as it claims more must be done to boost accessibility.
In a bid to boost access to the schemes, apprentices should also be paid the UK’s minimum wage, and provided with free public transport, it says.
It adds that academic requirements, requiring apprentices to pass Maths and English GCSEs, should also be scrapped to ensure the schemes are more accessible.
Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria urged to government to ‘listen to this report and implement its recommendations,’ including by supporting small companies and ‘increasing opportunities for young people’.
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